Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Mars

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WikiProject Solar System / Mars (Rated Project-class)
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Coordinators' working group[edit]

Hi! I'd like to draw your attention to the new WikiProject coordinators' working group, an effort to bring both official and unofficial WikiProject coordinators together so that the projects can more easily develop consensus and collaborate. This group has been created after discussion regarding possible changes to the A-Class review system, and that may be one of the first things discussed by interested coordinators.

All designated project coordinators are invited to join this working group. If your project hasn't formally designated any editors as coordinators, but you are someone who regularly deals with coordination tasks in the project, please feel free to join as well. — Delievered by §hepBot (Disable) on behalf of the WikiProject coordinators' working group at 05:56, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

Article alerts[edit]

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Thanks. — Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 09:23, 15 March, 2009 (UTC)

Coordinates template[edit]

The template {{Coor Mars}} was created. Now only links to Google Mars but it could be used for creating a database and a maps system similar to WikiMiniAtlas one. Telescopi (talk) 18:29, 28 March 2009 (UTC)


File:Mer-b-final-launch.jpg has been nominated for deletion. (talk) 05:01, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

Poor article within your remit[edit]

I stumbled across Dark Slope Streaks just now; I think it could do with some TLC on your part. Seegoon (talk) 00:38, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

I've since rewritten and expended the article. Schaffman (talk) 13:22, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Moon images category up for deletion[edit]

Category:Images of moons has been nominated for deletion at WP:CFD on May 23. (talk) 04:07, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

Extraterrestrial geographic coordinate templates[edit]

{{Moon}} and {{Coor Mars}} have been nominated for deletion at WP:TFD. See Wikipedia:Templates for deletion/Log/2009 September 16 (talk) 04:52, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

Mars Joint Exploration Initiative[edit]

Now that the Mars Joint Exploration Initiative colaboration between ESA-NASA was just signed, we can expect some duplicated missions to be cancelled. Specifically, i am wondering on MAVEN and the 2016 Mars Science Orbiter. Please keep your eyes open for new references that will state their status. Thank you, --BatteryIncluded (talk) 03:17, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

I received a reliable e-mail confirmation that MAVEN it is still a go: "MAVEN is still a go, and it's on track for a 2013 launch. The joint initiative between NASA and ESA is looking at future missions beginning in 2016, that is, beyond MAVEN. I've received assurances from the highest levels at NASA that we are not being reconsidered as part of the joint effort and that we are not at risk due to the budget problems of other missions."
That just leaves the 2016 Mars Science Orbiter on the verge. It seems like under the new Mars Joint Exploration Initiative between NASA-ESA, the 2016 Mars orbiter will be built by the ESA and launched by NASA, as part of the ExoMars mission. Source: [1].
Here is another reference (March 2009) about launching the MSO with the ExoMars mission:[2]: "One way to keep the mission joint would be to launch MSO and ExoMars on the same rocket in 2016. And on the trading table from NASA, it appears, is an Atlas V rocket." We know now that the weight is such that there will be 2 launches, and that the orbiter will be in the first and it will be built by ESA. I just requested an update on the MSO from NASA media office to verify its status, however, it is not even listed in the official 'NASA Missions' page, or in the JPL Mars Missions page. So please keep your eyes open for new references that will state the MSO status. Cheers! --BatteryIncluded (talk) 15:20, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Coordinate systems[edit]

I'm interested in supplying and repairing coordinates for surface features of Mars. Before I dive in, I'm wondering if this project has decided which coordinate system(s) to use. I notice, for instance, that the USGS decided to switch from "planetographic latitude with west longitude" to "planetocentric latitude with east longitude." For Mars, the difference in latitude between these coordinate systems is typically about 0.2-0.3 degrees of arc, which seems big enough to worry about. --Stepheng3 (talk) 00:28, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

If there's no objection, I'd like to start switching the articles over to "planetocentric latitude with east longitude." --Stepheng3 (talk) 02:16, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

I second that opinion. Schaffman (talk) 17:00, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

WP 1.0 bot announcement[edit]

This message is being sent to each WikiProject that participates in the WP 1.0 assessment system. On Saturday, January 23, 2010, the WP 1.0 bot will be upgraded. Your project does not need to take any action, but the appearance of your project's summary table will change. The upgrade will make many new, optional features available to all WikiProjects. Additional information is available at the WP 1.0 project homepage. — Carl (CBM · talk) 03:34, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Terraforming of Mars[edit]

Hello, I have just added a large amount of references to this article, cleaned up sentences and also cleaned up the talk page while I was at it. It could probably use another pair of eyes however, I did make quite a lot of changes to this article. Eddie mars (talk) 21:42, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

New stub thumbnail[edit]

I think the current thumbnail for {{Mars-stub}} should be replaced.

Current image Mars Valles Marineris.jpeg Mars Valles Marineris.jpeg
Proposed image Mars transparent.png Mars transparant.png

Transparency helps avoid a blocky look, while allowing the stub to match seamlessly with any background.
--Gyrobo (talk) 20:09, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

I don't see the problem with blockiness, since a number of stub templates use rectangular photos for their stubs, and all the flag used on stub templates are rectangular blocks. Apparently the way my system renders the new image causes some fuzziness to appear at the edge of the globe. But if the rest of the project prefers the new image, then so be it. (talk) 10:11, 15 May 2010 (UTC)
Just curious: is your display set to 32 bit color?—RJH (talk) 20:55, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
New image Tango Mars.svg Tango Mars.svg

Someone just changed the image again, to a third one. (talk) 06:12, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

  • I've reverted that. It looks horrible, and to be honest, apart from being red it does not really resemble Mars. --GW 06:32, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Well, I for one thing the proposed image looks fantastic...I for one see no fuzziness on any of the browsers I tried. It certainly looks better than the big black square, and "Tango Mars.svg" is truly horrible. Of all three, "Proposed" definitely gets my !vote, and honestly, I think it would get it regardless of a bit of fuzziness; certainly better than the blocky black square (and of course, 70.*, a flag is going to be blocky because it is a flag! The problem is the sharp contrast between the black and the nearly white background.). Huntster (t @ c) 09:38, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
  • I agree, and would be inclined to support a change to the proposed transparent image. I have requested it be renamed to correct the spelling error in its title, and would suggest that it is not introduced until this has occurred, to avoid issues during the replacement, and because wide-scale usage can result in Commons move requests being rejected. --GW 14:03, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
  • As a transparent image it works okay. But as a symbol of Mars, well frankly it looks like an orange lollipop. I don't think it is as good as the previous image.—RJH (talk)
  • RJH, which image are you saying you prefer, "proposed" or "new"? Huntster (t @ c) 17:22, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
    • The proposed image looks good in my browser, and it is pretty clearly Mars. If it renders okay for others then I would support that.—RJH (talk) 20:40, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
  • The image has been renamed. Time for the change? Ruslik_Zero 18:45, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
    • I vote to change it.
      --Gyrobo (talk) 20:07, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

Portal:Mars' FPR[edit]

Mars has been nominated for a featured portal review. Portals are typically reviewed for one week. During this review, editors may declare "Keep" or "Remove" the portal from featured status. Please leave your comments and help us to return the portal to featured quality. If concerns are not addressed during the review period, portals may lose its status as featured portals. The instructions for the review process are here. Reviewers' concerns are here.

Informed editors requested[edit]

This is related somewhat to Global Warming, so I present you the "wikipolitics" disclaimer.

Recently on the biography of Robert Watson (scientist), a minor edit war broke out over Watson's use of Mars to illustrate what the lack of global warming might look like. He said "We only need to look at 3 planets: Mars, Venus and Earth and you can explain why there is such a difference, a frigid Mars planet, no greenhouse gases, Venus is absolutely boiling lots of greenhouse gases and earth is by luck somewhere in the middle." The editors seeking to include this quote also noted that Mars' atmoshpere is 95% CO2, and that Watson's statement is "in conflict with our basic understanding of Mars."

Other editors responded that Mars' CO2 might be high in %age, but the relevence to global warming was not in %, but in Mars' near vaccum atmosphere, and that Watson's statement is not in conflict with our basic understanding of mars. It appears that there is a dispute over this.

It would be useful if editors educated on Astronomical objects could comment on a straw poll at Talk:Robert_Watson_(scientist). Thanks so much for your time. Hipocrite (talk) 16:31, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

Mars articles have been selected for the Wikipedia 0.8 release[edit]

Version 0.8 is a collection of Wikipedia articles selected by the Wikipedia 1.0 team for offline release on USB key, DVD and mobile phone. Articles were selected based on their assessed importance and quality, then article versions (revisionIDs) were chosen for trustworthiness (freedom from vandalism) using an adaptation of the WikiTrust algorithm.

We would like to ask you to review the Mars articles and revisionIDs we have chosen. Selected articles are marked with a diamond symbol (♦) to the right of each article, and this symbol links to the selected version of each article. If you believe we have included or excluded articles inappropriately, please contact us at Wikipedia talk:Version 0.8 with the details. You may wish to look at your WikiProject's articles with cleanup tags and try to improve any that need work; if you do, please give us the new revisionID at Wikipedia talk:Version 0.8. We would like to complete this consultation period by midnight UTC on Monday, October 11th.

We have greatly streamlined the process since the Version 0.7 release, so we aim to have the collection ready for distribution by the end of October, 2010. As a result, we are planning to distribute the collection much more widely, while continuing to work with groups such as One Laptop per Child and Wikipedia for Schools to extend the reach of Wikipedia worldwide. Please help us, with your WikiProject's feedback!

For the Wikipedia 1.0 editorial team, SelectionBot 23:18, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

Reorganisation of space WikiProjects[edit]

There is a discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Space/2010 Reorganisation regarding the future of WikiProject Space and its child projects. The discussion is aimed at defining the roles of projects, and improving the activity and coordination of the projects. The input of members of this project is requested as it is one which may be affected by the issue. --GW 22:32, 28 November 2010 (UTC)


The Mars Portal has been cleaned up and is now ready for its PPR. Feel free to tweak the colors and comment here on further improvements.--Novus Orator 03:40, 30 December 2010 (UTC)

Nuclear meltdown on Mars[edit]

This [3] might be considered for addition to the Mare Acidalium article. (talk) 10:44, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

Citing Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature in References: Do not list Jennifer Blue as author[edit]

I just received an email from Jenny Blue at USGS Astrogeology Program in Flagstaff. A number of Mars articles in Wikipedia reference her as the author (Blue, Jennifer) when refering to info at the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature website. She is NOT to be cited as the author. She is the contact person. The USGS maintains the website on behalf of the IAU working group for planetary system nomenclature (WGPSN), which is responsible for the content. She wants this to be made perfectly clear. I will fix this when I see it but want to put the word out so others can correct any misreferences also. Schaffman (talk) 19:57, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Update: I realize now that I'm not sure how to remove Jennifer's name from the references. These are bot generated listings, and I'm not familiar with how they've been created. Can anybody out there help? Schaffman (talk) 20:33, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

History of Mars[edit]

History of Mars (edit|talk|history|protect|delete|links|watch|logs|views) has been nominated for deletion. (talk) 05:06, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

Northwest Africa 7034[edit]

Northwest Africa 7034 is currently up for review for DYK. Is is also tagged by this project. --Tobias1984 (talk) 13:55, 5 January 2013 (UTC)

Mars categories under proposal to merge[edit]

Category:Mars spacecraft has been proposed to be merged to Category:Missions to Mars, see WP:CFDALL -- (talk) 07:45, 30 March 2013 (UTC)

Category:Mars Exploration Rover and Category:Mars expedition[edit]

Category:Mars Exploration Rover and Category:Mars expedition have shown up at WP:CFDALL for renaming and deletion, respectively. -- (talk) 01:50, 31 March 2013 (UTC)

New stub article: Amazonian[edit]

Hi guys. Long time no contribute. Sorry. I've just boldly seized the page Amazonian, torn out the redirect to the Amazon DAB page that was all that was there before, and slapped up a stub for the Martian geological period. I just can't believe we didn't have this before!

Please head over and get expanding. I will slowly, but would welcome more enthusiastic/rapid input. Thanks! (Notice duplicated over at Wikipedia:WikiProject_Solar_System) DanHobley (talk) 06:16, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Absolute dating systems for Mars chronology - out of date?[edit]

Prompted by working on Amazonian (Mars), I've been thinking about our dates for the major Mars periods. I'm concerned we might be out of date and internally inconsistent. The most up-to-date boundaries I know of are in Werner, S. C., and K. L. Tanaka (2011), Redefinition of the crater-density and absolute-age boundaries for the chronostratigraphic system of Mars, Icarus, 215(2), 603–607, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2011.07.024, but equally, I've not seen this stuff cited much in the real literature - probably as it's still new. I'd be interested in second thoughts on whether this would be a good basis for a rewrite of the places where we talk in depth about Mars dating, and more generally where, e.g., "about 3Ga" or equivalent gets thrown about. I think it probably wound be, but could be persuaded otherwise too. DanHobley (talk) 07:19, 23 June 2013 (UTC)

Editor is out on a mission to delete all my contributions from the Mars project[edit]

Just want to draw your attention to this. He won an AfD against me and has declared that it is now his intention to remove all my contributions from the Mars project.

He has been extremely hostile to me, and has hurled insults at me frequently. I have totally given up trying to do anything about it.

For details of what he has deleted so far, see User talk:Robertinventor#Other sections deleted by the opposing editor

Outside Comment[edit]

This issue was taken by Robert Walker to the WP:Help Desk. It appears that there are violations of the rule to assume good faith, the rule against personal attacks, and the rule against battleground editing. It is not clear to me yet how much of the fault is on which side, but there is fault on both. An AFD to delete one article does not serve as a consensus that all contributions by its author should be deleted. If there are issues as to whether to delete sections of articles, a better mechanism would be article content Requests for Comments. A project talk page is not a forum to propose a topic ban on an editor. If there is intention to have an editor topic-banned, then a better forum is a user conduct Request for Comments. The use of this talk page as a forum for proposing a topic ban amounts to a claim by the majority to ownership of the project. Stop the battleground editing and, as much as you apparently dislike each other, try to work collaboratively. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:36, 29 June 2013 (UTC) Also, Robert Walker quoted some very strong personal attacks by Warren Platts, but hasn't provided diffs to substantiate. Back up the quotes with diffs. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:36, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

Mr. McClenon, before you go throwing your weight around here, until you've slogged through the entire contents of Talk:Concerns for an early Mars sample return, Talk:Mars sample return mission, Talk:Manned mission to Mars, Talk:Life on Mars, Talk:Water on Mars, and the AfD discussion WP:Articles for deletion/Log/2013 June 16#Concerns for an early Mars sample return, and read Robert's actual content, e.g., Concerns for an early Mars sample return#Revision as of 07:32, 26 June 2013, not to mention his blog and published opinion pieces (cf.Need for Caution For an Early Mars Sample Return--Opinion Piece) you have no clue what we've been up against the last few months. Sorry for the occasional snark--but I see from your contrib history that's something you're not completely immune to as well. In fact, in 15 minutes of dealing with Robert, you're already making sarcastic comments against him. Try dealing with him on a daily basis for a month, buddy!
Ultimately, the good of the encyclopedia must outweigh the social guideline to be nice at all costs. There are some users--e.g., Robert Walker--who will hide behind the culture of WP:CIVILITY. They tend to think that if they throw up a wall o' text on a talk page to justify their every "contribution", that makes it golden. Then if anyone then edits it down, they cry uncivil!. Robert here has a hard time believing that any editor could possibly disagree with his argument that Mars presents a grave danger to Earth. Therefore, he attributes my edits to malice. Nothing could be further from the truth. Frankly, I feel sorry for Robert and the hours he's spent here--even though he doesn't give a damn about wasting hours of other people's time. The simple bottom line is that we can't let pseudoscience pass for science in an encyclopedia article. Warren Platts (talk) 00:14, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
@Warren Platts Two wrongs don't make a right, unless you are saying that they do. You say that he is attributing your edits to malice, but you are attributing his edits to malice, because you stated that he was intentionally injecting misinformation. What I can see is that this project has become a battleground. I don't have enough information to assess the blame accurately, but it falls both ways. A single AFD deletion does not in itself mean that all of his sections can be deleted on that basis. Major deletions should be discussed on article talk pages or by the Requests for Change process. Other editors have expressed concern that Manned mission to Mars is becoming promotional rather than encyclopedic.
You do not have the right to use project or article talk pages to propose to topic-ban him from Mars. There are regular forums for that action.
Your allegation that he has been spamming appears to be based on off-Wiki activity, which is irrelevant. If you have on-Wiki evidence of spamming, please present it.
I assume that you are addressing me as Mr. McClenon, to which I do not object, because that is a valid form of my name, because you have a problem with another Robert. That is all right.
There have been serious violations of Wikipedia policies. I was not involved, and I can see that both sides have been wrong. Either try to work together, or use the Dispute Resolution process. It is clear that no one has been trying to use the dispute resolution process until now, but that, except for one AFD, you have been choosing instead to do edit-wars in a project.
If there is really a desire to have a particular editor sanctioned, then use Requests for Comments on user conduct. Use caution on doing that.
Try to work together, and if that is impossible, use Dispute Resolution rather than having a battleground.::Both you and he wasted the time of the WP: Help Desk. First he came there, and then said that he was going to just go away, and didn't provide diffs for his allegations of your personal attacks. He made extreme allegations, and didn't provide diffs, or even useful links. Then I asked where to continue the discussion. You proposed this talk page, and I came here. You then continued your argument at the Help Desk, so that I had to close the discussion at the Help Desk.

Robert McClenon (talk) 02:20, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

I have never edited a Mars-related article, but I came across this dispute and would like to continue my comment from the help desk page. First, Robert McClenon, I'm sorry if I misread your remark about sarcasm there.
From my perspective, Warren Platts is out of control. Aside from the quotes already given by Robert Walker, Platts' own defense on the help desk clearly shows battleground mentality (in favor of manned missions to Mars). He added a fact tag to my brief comment there, which is just funny. He accuses Walker of lying and calls the disputed contributions "spam". Walker's contributions may be overlong or even fringe but they aren't spam. The battleground mentality is revealed by, "Robert is on a mission to save the planet ... His goal is to put the brakes on Mars exploration--as if it were on the fast track." [emphasis added]
I wouldn't take the time if this were just about Platts. The problem, as is often the case with battleground mentality, seems to be systemic among Mars editors. User:BatteryIncluded concludes that Platts showed "astonishing self-control". Elsewhere, User:Eaglizard tried to intervene on Walker's behalf and gets called a "religious zealot". Lastly, it seems the AfD for Concerns for an early Mars sample return succeeded without anyone noticing this related article, which is probably a better redirect candidate than ICAMSR.
I'm not a domain expert here but the eventual result on Mars_sample_return_mission doesn't seem entirely unreasonable. My concern is potentially ongoing abuse of process, vile behavior, and ownership mentality, the effect they can have on these articles going forward, and the wider harm they can do to the encyclopedia. beefman (talk) 17:38, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
I'd like to say, I've felt welcome here on Project Mars - despite my differing views from many here - and treated with civility and respect by all the editors of MarsProject that I've talked to - except for these two. So - in my experience they are unusual in this respect. Just wanted to say that. It is only because of my experiences of the last month that I feel I want to take a break from it all for a while. Robert Walker (talk) 20:52, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Thank you, Beefman, for your comments, with which I agree. You noticed the irregular redirect, as did I. When an article is merged into another article, the redirect of the source article should be to the target article. The concerns were not limited to the ICAMSR. I have redirected the merged (source) article to the target article, Mars sample return mission, which was always what it should have been redirected to.
Beefman mentions the article on interplanetary contamination. It is very short and is tagged as under-sourced. The article on back-contamination is completely unsourced. If Robert Walker is willing to try to make a useful contribution to the Mars project after all, I would suggest that, since he has done considerable research on those issues, he could expand the articles. Just keep them to a moderate length. Editing of his contributions to provide proper weight and achieve neutral point of view is fine, but any deletion of his contributions because of previous battleground behavior will be disruptive editing, to be avoided. By the way, merging the two articles has been suggested, and I agree that they should be merged.
If Warren Platts or anyone else really wants another editor topic-banned, there is a procedure for that. As mentioned above, it is a user conduct RFC. I will however provide a very strong warning to consider very carefully whether that could boomerang, also known as shooting oneself in the foot. Sometimes when the ArbCom is asked to topic-ban an editor, they topic-ban that editor, and the editor making the request. Robert McClenon (talk) 00:45, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
Robert - just to say - I am willing to work on this if it is thought suitable, after a break from editing first. My idea for how to do it is to collaborate with someone with opposite views to me on contamination issues, who I feel able to work with, to help achieve balance, if I can find someone. I have someone in mind who might be able to do it, who I respect (and he respects me) and who I have had vigorous debates with on these matters.
I'd like to suggest the articles are left as stubs at present rather than combined. The problem is - that the main issues are different. For back contamination the focus is on the Earth and protecting the Earth from a very low probability but high severity risk. Also at present only Mars is seriously under consideration as a restricted Category V sample return.
For forward contamination issues, the main focus at present is on the science value of the target, with risks for humans seldom discussed much. In a general article like this, there are many Category IV targets to be considered including Mars (and its Moons), Europa, Engladus, and Titan. Another concern mentioned recently is contamination of the (probable) ice at the poles of the Moon.
With a single target like Mars you could combine both directions, provided that you also only present it from a single POV. That is what I did for the Manned mission to Mars section.
However, what I found with the MSR article is that if you leave out any of the main POVs the resulting article will seem biased to at least some readers. It is hard to find a totally satisfactory solution to this I think. The problem is there really isn't a "mainstream view" or rather, different people have different ideas of what the "mainstream view" is.
It seems that you must describe the offical POV of course, also Zubrin's POV, and also at the other extreme the ICAMSR's POV, at a minimum for a MSR. For forward contamination you have a similar range of views. Leave any of them out and the article will seem biased to some readers. It still seems biased, as I found out, if you include all the POVs, but at least the reader can hope to find their POV on the page. Hopefully having a collaborator with opposite POV to me, if it works out, could help with the perception of overall bias.
Thanks for fixing the redirect to ICAMSR, totally agree the MSR article is the appropriate place to redirect after a merge. Hope this reply isn't too long (is a second draft after I wrote another reply that was longer) Robert Walker (talk) 02:39, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
Specific thoughts on the science and where to put what: I think RW's work plan (02:39 2 July) sounds sensible. I lack the detailed knowledge and, indeed, enthusiasm for the writing the detailed modern Mars habitability/contamination material but I will happily provide disinterested third/fourth opinions on text once it's there. One major concern that I do have still is that we don't overload too many articles with this type of discussion. RW is totally right when he says the best way here is to have a detailed collaborative text with several perspectives, but this shouldn't be duplicated widely. Do it once (twice I guess - "Present day habitability of Mars" and "Contamination issues" are related but at least in part distinct), then link over to that article from other Mars articles. I say this mainly as this Project has longstanding issues with articles that are just too long, and we're only just getting a handle on this problem. I'm reluctant to let the main articles tangentially related to the life topic (e.g., Mars, Water on Mars, Climate of Mars, Atmosphere of Mars...) start getting bigger and bigger again with what is likely to be mainly duplicated text.
FWIW, my thoughts remain that consensus in the broader scientific community on modern Mars surface habitability is along the lines of what remains at Water on Mars#Habitability assessment - the radiation problem remains very severe and hasn't yet been convincingly argued away by anyone. But we should add some material (somewhere - not Water on Mars!) noting the chances of life aren't zero, and some people are notably more optimistic. (NB: I don't propose having this discussion on this page; it should be probably over at one of our existing present day habitability pages.) DanHobley (talk) 05:39, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
I don't see why we need more Mars articles. The ones we have are in bad enough shape. If we're not going to topic ban Robert Walker, we should at least not encourage him to write more POV-biased walls o' text--it's the only thing he knows how to do. As for his idea that he collaborate with another editor with mainstream POV, I've already offered to do that with him on multiple occasions. He won't do it. It's impossible. The problem with RW is that it takes more hours to edit down his "content" than it does to write it up from scratch. If we really need more content on contamination, then step up to the plate and write it yourself. That's my opinion. YMMV. Cheers, Warren Platts (talk) 19:56, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
Do not use this project talk pages or article talk pages to propose a topic-ban on Robert Walker. If you really want him topic-banned, there is a procedure for the purpose, and it isn't demands in talk pages that he stop editing these pages. That would fall within the definition of bullying within Wikipedia. Before you choose to use administrative consensus or the Arbitration Committee, the appropriate forums for such a request,be very careful, because such a request may boomerang, because there has been wrong on both sides. If you mean that you are no longer seeking a topic ban, then we are in agreement. Robert McClenon (talk) 00:18, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
Opposite, not mainstream. IMO neither of us have a mainstream POV. Someone who removes a third of my first sole article in Project Mars without discussion, and reverts again after an attempt at BRD, and who removes nearly all my content from the Project Mars section of wikipedia without prior discussion and again doesn't respond to my attempt at BRD for the largest section deleted, isn't going to be my first choice for collaborator. Hope you understand and thanks for the offer Robert Walker (talk) 21:23, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
lol! Robert! Glad to see you still have retained your sense of humor through your whole ordeal! Cheers, Warren Platts (talk) 22:07, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
The issue is not whether Mars habitability is a notable topic, but its accurate presentation in Wikipedia. Persistent and deliberate quote-mining from scientific papers leads to misrepresentations because their context is lost, and the source is tortured to extract conclusions not indicated in the original paper. Add WP:Synthesis to the mix using quote mining, and the whole thing becomes garbage. I am not 'after RW', but scientific accuracy (and verifiability). His mere unfamiliarity with scientific procedure protocols and related terminology, easily throws him off in the direction of his expectation/fear (example: Schuerger "ruling out" the lethality of ionizing radiation, which I will address soon in the article). In addition, my attempt at collaborating with RW was quickly halted by his non-negotiable desire to remove all mention of ionizing radiation as it relates to habitability, which frankly is a very dishonest attitude given the vast amount of unambiguous references currently cited, so he practically exhausted by assumption of good-faith. As of today, I still do not wish him banned from the Project, but I request for him to be kindly moderated in the future with regards to WP:CHEESE and WP:COMPETENCE. -Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 02:07, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
(indentation reduced for readability)
Please note, this discussion only happened on the talk pages. Battery Included did a bold edit to remove an existing section on water on Mars created by many authors - I only added a couple of sentences to it, and that was some months ago. He previously removed a paragraph of content I added to Life on Mars on the same subject, which was my own contribution and summarized the section of the Water on Mars page which already existed.
Recent papers focus on factors such as UV, the vacuum conditions of the atmosphere, and the extreme cold. The material BI supplied to support his argument dates from before phoenix in 2008 when the surface was thought to be uninhabitable and applies to dormant life.
The papers cited in the removed section conclude possible habitability of the surface and don't say anything about limiting effects of cosmic radiation. In my view he should not add an argument about cosmic radiation that in his view invalidates the results of these papers if the original papers do not cite it.
Peer reviewed papers should be presented exactly "as is". Criticism of the results can also be presented but only if the criticism is cited and is clearly directed at the conclusions of those papers, rather than at conclusions of other earlier papers. I have seen no recent discussion of any of these papers presenting those criticisms. Also in the recent conference in February this year, the question of cosmic radiation wasn't raised during expert questions after the talks.
To suggest I need to be supervised for raising a topic like this on the talk pages is absurd. Please note that BI took on himself to archive the talk pages of Life on Mars and Water on Mars in their entirety (leaving no discussions at all on the pages) with several open topics started by me including an open suggestion to start a new article on the habitability of the surface of Mars. He did this during the period of Warren Platt's removal of the content on contamination concerns from the main pages. I later reposted this topic and my repost was allowed to remain, but the original posts and open discussions remain archived.
The topic is not a fringe view. It is a subject under active research by at least three dozen researchers in the US, UK and Germany who publish many papers on it every year, a major conference early this year and Paige plans to start a new journal devoted to the topic.
He also engaged in totally OTT insults of me, similar to Warren, on the talk pages.
He has said several times that he will no longer discuss it with me. It is not a sufficiently clear case of WP:CHEESE to do that and indeed I would go the other way around. In my view, by adding his own extra level of criticism on top of the recent published research and refusing to acknowledge or discuss any of the material I present, the WP:CHEESE could be argued to go the other way.
He doesn't show any detailed knowledge of the recent research, and by presenting cosmic radiation as the most important limiting factor in his summary of one of the papers he goes against a video presentation in February this year by one of the authors of that same paper. He lists the 14 potential habitat limiting factors in order of importance, states clearly that they are in order of importance, and has cosmic radiation as tenth in the list. He discusses it no further in the talk and the experts listening do not raise it in questions afterwards. This surely shows it is not a major concern amongst experts researching into these topics. Robert Walker (talk) 06:49, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
Robert, I am sick and tired of your repeated whining. If you can't handle the MIGs, then stay out of MIG alley. Moreover, your allegations of sock puppetry are direct attack on the personal integrity of BI and myself that goes way beyond any of the "insults" supposedly "hurled" at you. Talk about calling the kettle black! And your idea that peer reviewed papers must be presented "exactly as is" is extremely disingenuous to put it politely. Quote mining, which is your specialty, is an easy way to twist the truth to suit your editorial opinions. Why don't you do something useful like going back to the MSR article, researching what happened with the budget cuts and new schedule? That would actually be useful and demonstrate that you're actually interested in improving Mars articles rather than merely promoting your hobby horse.Warren Platts (talk) 16:40, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

Yes, RW, you are a victim of a world-wide coverup, and Mackay submitted this astrobiology lander proposal only to ridicule you:
BatteryIncluded (talk) 14:13, 4 July 2013 (UTC)


Wikipedia is not a battleground. There are still being too many personal attacks on both sides, and the articles will not be improved if the personal attacks do not stop.

I will add one more comment on what is out of line, and that is accusations of sock puppetry. That appears to be something that Robert Walker has fabricated out of Martian thin air. The idea that Warren Platts and BatteryIncluded are sockpuppets (who is the sock and who is the puppeteer?) is patent nonsense. They have both been editing since 2007, which is longer than Robert Walker has been editing Mars. They have different styles of personal attacks. They have different approaches to their talk pages. One archives his talk page, and the other deletes his talk page. That allegation is an unsupported personal attack. There is also a forum for dealing with sockpuppets, which is Sock Puppet Investigations. If you want to make that allegation properly, go there, and be aware that that it also may boomerang. If you have decided to back off on the claim of sock puppetry, that is good.

I will comment that Zubrin and ICAMSR are both fringe, just opposite fringes, but the climate at the North Pole is not that different from the climate at the South Pole. ICAMSR at least is living in the real world (the Earth) and has an extreme opinion about how to protect it. Zubrin is only physically living in the real world (the Earth), because he wants to throw it away and replace it with Mars, and has a bizarre idea that the three hundred years it took Europeans to colonize North America is relevant to how long it would take to terraform Mars. They should both be quoted, but they are both fringe, and no article should give them undue weight.

I am not suggesting that Warren Platts and Robert Walker, or BatteryIncluded and Robert Walker, should collaborate. That is absurd. They should agree to some reasonable breakdown of how to improve the articles so that they don't get in each other's ways. Robert McClenon (talk) 17:15, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

Just to say I didn't allege that they were sock puppets. I observed many remarkable coincidences, such as:
  1. WP and BI start OTT insults of me on the same day, accusing me of POV pushing, in unrelated discussions on separate pages of Project Mars, when no other editor on wikipedia has ever insulted me or accused me of POV pushing,
  2. BI tags WPs version of the AfD. WP then tells me that my version was tagged (in my user space). Finally BI supports WP's version against mine in the AfD. Why would WP when he sees a tag on the page he is editing assume it applies to a page in my user space? Why would BI tag the version which he supported in the AfD?
  3. When WP decided to remove all my content from Project Mars, BI archives the entire talk pages for two pages with open discussions with me, and WP then follows suit archiving the entire talk page for Manned mission to Mars.
  4. Warren accuses me of retaliatory tagging when I tagged his content in the BC section of the MSR article, but it is BI who tagged and he tagged WPs version of the article. Strange to suppose I was retaliating to that.
Several other things like that. In view of this I asked more experienced wikipedians if this might possibly be evidence of sock puppetry and deserved investigation.
Also - it was clear that WP was not a sock puppet for BI created for the AFD. What I suspected was a second account created for another reason, e.g. a user who wants a second account under his real name (presuming BatteryIncluded is not someone's real name). I suspected that this second account was then taken advantage of to swing the decision in the AfD against me, which was the reason for wanting to discuss it.
There were several other irregularities in the AfD. At the start of the AfD the discussion was over WPs version of the article even though WP was the one proposing deletion of the article and the one who removed most of its content through a series of bold edits, not permitting me to create a substantial version for discussion. It was only through the intervention of N2e that I was able to work on my version for the AfD.
Also on the last day of the AfD there were several strong Delete and Merge votes from people never involved in the debate and who from their contribution history never contributed to Astronomy sections of wikipedia. Then after that WP was insistent that the debate needed to be closed, adding a new section "Rough Consensus" to the article to sway the decision of the admin. When the section was collapsed by another admin he moved the section header out of the collapsed section so you still saw "rough consensus" prominently in the page.
And the discussion didn't go into any details at all of the citations, any individual sections, nothing, just repeated WPs assessment without explanation in several different voices, with no evidence that any of them had gone so far as to read the Office of Planetary Protection page on Mars Sample Return (obvious first stop on the issue) or indeed my article. I expected a more considered AfD for such a heavily cited article.Robert Walker (talk) 12:33, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
If WP and BI were sock puppets as well, that seemed to me sufficient reason to ask for a reversal of the AfD decision due to improper conduct.
It was not obviously nonsense to me. I am not familiar with sock puppets. This is the first time I have come across behaviour that lead me to wonder if someone might be a sock puppet, (this plus some strange behaviour of an ip address on the talk page for the AfD in the middle of a discussion with WP who said they were not WP, strongly expressed very unusual views on BC almost identical to WP for just three or four posts and then vanished from the discussion) and wished for advice on the subject.
Robert McLenon advised me that they might be meat puppets. That could be so I suppose, if so I suspect they are in regular close contact, and it is still a little hard to understand the tagging - why WP thought at tag by BI of the page he was editing was a tag of the page I was editing and why WP thought my tag of his content in the MSR page was retaliatory tagging for this tag.
The rest could be explained though and I accept this is a minor point and am not familiar with sock puppetry, and also understand now that it is considered to be a serious allegation that you shouldn't make without strong evidence. I originally thought it might be a relatively simple matter to investigate, not having researched it. I don't allege them of sock puppetry. I now suspect meat puppetry or some other very close off wiki connection between the two accounts. The tagging anomalies could perhaps be explained by users permitting each other to use each others accounts or computers perhaps? I still find that very hard to accept as actions of a single user, as I can't see how anyone could see a tag of the page they are editing and immediately jump to the conclusion that it is a tag of my page in my user space.
If I understand Robert McLenon rightly, this is not considered something worth investigating and can't overturn the AfD which is my main reason for wanting to bring this all up. Robert Walker (talk) 08:31, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Wow, now we can add Paranoid personality disorder to the laundry list... Warren Platts (talk) 18:59, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
@WP: Read the policy on personal attacks. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:59, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Warren, first, I apologise if you are a real person and not exchanging accounts or communicating off wiki with BI. The thing is, I have no way of knowing that, and wikipedia has a continuous ongoing issue with sock puppetry and meat puppetry with multiple investigations going on every day. You must admit that it was a remarkable coincidence that you and BI started OTT insults of me on the same day in unrelated talk page discussions, and that the tagging event was unusual to say the least. Then there were many irregularities in the conduct of the AfD. So please understand why it is reasonably natural of me to suspect meat puppetry or sock puppetry, and not paranoia.
For sock puppetry, seems there are many legitimate reasons for having sock puppets, and though usually you have to disclose that you are sock puppets, there are quite a few situations where you don't need to or even shouldn't disclose that you are sock puppets. What I suspected was not that you are a sock puppet created for the AfD but that you were a legitimate sock puppet taken advantage of in a way that is not legitimate during the AfD as sock puppets shouldn't be used to get extra "votes". Similarly there is nothing wrong with having lots of friends on wikipedia (as I do myself) and those of course don't need to be disclosed, it is only if you call on those friendships to sway a vote in an AfD or similar situations that you call them meatpuppets.
So I just thought it seemed quite likely there is some off wiki connection between all those accounts that voted against me in the AfD that might invalidate it. I originally thought sock puppets, now wonder if it might be meat puppets. If there is no connection I sincerely apologise. However, I don't know how you can deal with that except by seeking advice as there is no way for me to know for sure that there is no connection.
BTW in my experience people who respond with an attack as you do so often tend to be those who have something to hide, as they do it to deflect attention away from themselves. So you aren't doing too much right now to help convince me that you have nothing to hide. Robert Walker (talk) 12:23, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
@RW: Cite one Wikipedia policy that says that there are any legitimate reasons for having sock puppets. Do you really mean that, as an experienced Wikipedia editor, you haven't read the policy on sockpuppets, which provides that they are blocked and sometimes banned? Robert McClenon (talk) 23:56, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Just to say for anyone reading this, conversation continued on my talk page. Turned out that I had misunderstood and thought "sock puppet" meant the same as "alternative account" when it means "alternative account used improperly". The policy page made it clear but my eye slid over the vital word in the first sentence. I posted about this on the talk page Wikipedia talk:Sock puppetry#Emphasis of improper 13:05, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
Robert Walker, your assumption, that BI and WP have some minority POV is simply wrong. The point is, that you look at the things extremely selective, mostly without the proper context. Although your citations look correct at first glance, they are partially taken out of the context of being considered as "exceedingly unlikely" (ESF report, p.36) and further reduced by applying a factor of 1e-6. I'm independent of any Mars colonization programs. I never heard of WP, BI or you ever before reading the talk about MSR resp. Concerns about BC. And I'm using a changing IP adress, because anyone knowing me in real life won't understand that I'm wasting my time with discussions about weird conspiracy theories.
I wished I could help you to get back to a reasonable POV, but I don't really know how. I'll do one try here, and then give up, if it doesn't help: Read the complete ESF report, and try to understand what "exceedingly unlikely" means, may be with the help of some of your real-life friends. Try to connect it with your idea of identifying huge numbers with infinity; look at the reciproke; remember 1/infty = 0. Consider "exceedingly unlikely" as a kind of ongoing convergence process versus zero (or the reciproke as diverging versus infinity). Read section 5 of the ESF report, and relate sentences like "When investigating what is considered to be an acceptable – or tolerable – level of risk, one often comes across the figure ‘one in a million’ or 1e-6." to your considerations about what is likely to be a neutral POV.
Think about the consequences for Wikipedia, if any "exceedingly unlikely" hazardous option would be explained in full detail for each topic. Example: There is evidence, that switching on the light can cause an explosion in rare cases, because an exposive gas-air mixture could be present in a room due to some gas leak. The explosion could result in a fire. The fire could distribute to nearby houses. One of that houses could be a biosafety laboratory. All means to stop the fire could fail, and some hazardous agent could spread and kill millions of people. There is a "remote" chance that this chain of incidents can happen. Therefore this needs to be included in a Wikipedia article about light switches, light bulbs, electricity, methane, fire, explosion, air, room, leak, house, etc.
... and anyone who deletes that kind of contents without extensive dicussion should be banned.
As a user of Wikipedia I'm glad, that there are people who keep Wikipedia clean of such stuff.
I hope, WP and BI will come back and continue their preciuos work, even if there might occur occasional minor deviations from perfect balance. Better than harsh POVs in the other direction, preventing serious editors from doing their job.
From time to time I use Wikipedia as a reference. I can't do that, if I've to fear, that it will be undermined by an anti-science movement spreading nonsense with the same right as scientifially evident results. (talk) 15:19, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
Hi, as far as I know they are still editing wikipedia. BI anyway, WP said he has to take time off wikipedia. The Arbitration wasn't taken out by me but I added evidence to it, was by Robert McClenon, and was based on a number of wikipedia guideline violating actions, as he so thought, and I felt so too. He is an experienced admin and I feel must have had reason for taking it to arbitration. More WP than BI, but BI enough to be mentioned in it.
I have been on the receipt of extreme personal verbal insults for many weeks now from WP particularly, as you can see from the evidence in the case, just because of my differing POV, and WP has done things like merging pages away and deleting all my content from a page just because it "nauseates him" when it is fully cited and surely needed discussion first.
On the probabilities thing - yes if the MSR containment facility works, no human error, and it is indeed a million fold reduction, that helps a lot. As a mathematician I'm not totally satisfied with that answer because you ask then " million fold reduction from what". If the original very low meant one in a thousand, for instance, and you have a million fold reduction, that's one in a billion, and as Carl Sagan said you can't take even a tiny chance with a billion lives. No-one seems to give any attempt at estimating the original probabilities or to give a target for the probability to aim for after the reduction. That is my own personal gripe as a mathematician with everyone in the debate - the officials, and the ICAMSR and Zubrin, none of them have any attempts at numbers. But I can't put this into wikipedia of course, just so you understand where I'm coming from, what my POV slant is.
Following Carl Sagan my POV is that a return to Earth possibly could be done safely but would want to be very sure about it. And I also feel, why take any risk at all when there is a safe alternative involving in situ exploration on Mars?
But the deleted material expresses the POV of the ESF. Yes I've read the complete report and glad that you have too. Yes what the report says is that the original probability is thought to be low anyay, and that by reducing it a million fold you end up with a probability low enough to be acceptable. That is what I wanted to express in the articles that got deleted.
Did you see what I wrote? Perhaps the way it comes over to others is different from intended. I didn't mean it to be in any way alarmist, just to express the findings of the ESF report clearly. If you read the report carefully, well what they said is what I meant to say in the article I wrote, of course have to reduce it to a few sentences saying what you take to be the salient points.
I feel it is notable and needs to be said. A tiny probability of risk of environmental disruption, even if very small as surely this one is, still is well worth taking precautions against. The official POV is that it is, say so clearly, and after all, why recommend a 200 million dollar + facility be built to contain and say all those things about need to contain ultramicrobacteria and GTAs if possible as well, if they didn't mean what they say in the report?
Warren Platts and Battery Included keep saying that I am alarmist and POV pushing. But I don't think I am and none of my friends outside facebook think I am, and I have friends that are very different in POV and they don't find this material alarmist and can't understand what the fuss is about. That includes the friend with POV really not that far from WP, except he respects me and also thinks the material is notable and should be included. They don't post here because I am careful to warn them not to or they would be counted as meatpuppets. See User:Robertinventor/Mars Sample Receiving Faclity and User:Robertinventor/Mars_Sample_Return_Legal_Issues_and_International_Public_Debate. Do you really think those are alarmist and POV pushing? If so why, what particularly in the article comes over as alarmist. I want to correct it if they are as that was never my intention. But you do have to present clearly that environmental disruption is the worst case possible outcome, otherwise the whole thing doesn't make any sense, why you would go to all that trouble to prevent it.
Does that make sense? I won't bite, if you disagree :). I don't engage in extreme personal insults myself and am happy to talk about this to anyone and hear what your views are and what issues you have with it or with the proposed content. Robert Walker (talk) 18:08, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
Again with a new IP, probably. Don't fear to insult me unintentionally; I'm rather robust in that point.
Glad to hear, that BI and WP will continue their work for Wikipedia; hopefully you're right.
Insults shouldn't be necessary, but I think WP either didn't take your contribution for serious but for trolling, or it has simply been a sign of despair.
I think, I'm able to think in different logical paradigms (intuitionistic, constructivistic, predicative, mathematical, etc.); so I'm confident, we'll be able to get in sync at that point. Best, we try to avoid tertium non datur, if possible. Things look simple enough to do so.
The central cause, however, for disagreements seems to be the definition of "exceedingly unlikely". So we should first find at least some upper and lower bound. I feel, that you agree.
My rough understanding is "exceedingly unlikely" < "very unikely" < "unlikely".
I assume, that the definition is the same for NASA and ESA, although that's some uncertainty.
From the MSL NEPA ( (page 2-43):
- "unlikely" means "1 in 100 to 1 in 10 thousand".
- "very unlikely" means "1 in 10 thousand to 1 in 1 million".
- "extremely unlikely" means "less than 1 in a million".
Not yet resolved, what "exceedingly unlikely" means, but I assume as an intermediate step, that it's at most 1 in a million, may be below an even lower upper bound. Needs more clarifying. A bit unlucky, that the ESF report doesn't quantify it or at least tries to quantify the uncertainty about quantifying.
"These factors make it exceedingly unlikely that any microorganism capable of causing human disease could originate from Mars." (ESF, p.36). I interprete this intermediately as a probability of the existence of a hazardous microorganism on Mars of below 1 to 1 million under the condition, that there exists life on Mars at all (which is unknown). This multiplied probability (which I estimate as below 1 in 1 million) has to be multiplied with the conditional probability that exactly this type of microorganism is collected. I've no probability for this. But it is explicitely intended not to collect samples from a present possibly habitable region on Mars, at least for the 2020 mission. So I estimate this conditional probability as significantly below 1. Together the probability to collect a hazardous microorganism will be significantly below 1 in a million.
This has to be multiplied by the probability of the release of single particle of a collected sample of 1 in a million. Now we are significantly below 1 in 1e-12.
This << 1e-12 probability has to be multiplied with the ratio of microorganisms in the sample in relation to the whole sample. For this ratio we will be in the lower p.p.m region as an upper bound, based on present analysis results of volatile organics in Martian samples. No such volatiles have yet been found; and the probability that those volatiles are of living organisms is again significantly below 1. So we get (taking 10 p.p.m. as an upper bound) << 1e-17.
That's a rough estimate. We may try to refine it with more precise data, if available. But at the end, I think the probability will be much lower, somewhere near 1e-20 or lower for the release of a single hazardous microorganism.
This microorgansim now has to find an organism where it can spread, again unlikely.
So from the standpoint of present scientific evidence, as I interprete it, there is no reason at all to be concerned, as long as the PP rules are obeyed. I personally wouldn't even be concerned, if no BC precaution at all would be taken, but that's my POV. I would even eat an unsterilized Martian sample without check for microorganisms; my concerns would be toxic perchlorate and radioactivity from exposure to solar and galactic particles, and possible sand, because I don't like sand between my teeth. I'm more afraid of cars and roof avalanches, or of someone having a cough.
Most of the precaution has to be taken, imho, in order to take concerns and anxiety of the public serious, even if there is no scientific basis for those concerns. And I think, that's an important point in the ESF report, which leads to the recommendations: Treat the sample as dangerous, although we are almost absolutely shure, that there isn't any danger. This improves public acceptance.
Could be that you confuse actual risk with recommendations made for public concerns, or at least don't distinguish the two things clearly. That may lead to the alarmist interpretation. (talk) 23:22, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
(unindenting because conversation is going to right hand side of the screen on my netbook)
Okay, something though to turn that around a bit, your extra orders of magnitude, the main objective of a sample return is to find signs of life. So will target places where life is likely. If it was purely geological, they could simply sterilize the sample before return to Earth which would retain most of its geological interest while keeping it safe for BC, e.g. dry heat sterilization at moderately high temperatures no damage to the rock but kill all known life. I think even the ICAMSR would probably not object if they did that. You could dry heat sterilize the entire capsule plus contents for a few days in space before return to Earth for a purely geological sample return, indeed, dry heat sterilize during journey back to Earth. But they won't do that because by far the most exciting result scientifically would be the remote chance of present day life or well preserved or dormant ancient life.
Then if there is surface life somewhere on Mars, it isn't clear that it won't also be in the returned sample. Depends on its abundance. But Carl Sagan raised the possibility that lifeforms could be imbedded in a grain of the Martian dust and get carried protected from UV anywhere on Mars. So dormant life could be present in the dust. There is also one theory, the advancing sand dune bioreactors, according to which life might be present even in the region where Curiosity is. It is a bit unlikely but suppose it is 1 in 1000 that may still be relevant.
Then existential risks that could disrupt the environment of the Earth are hard to reason about as Nick Bostrom said. The problem is that obviously the most severe ones at least have never been encountered by humans yet and we aren't by evolution or psychology well equipped to reason about them.
As with you, I would also eat Martian micro-organisms if I had to, - and not be too concerned that they would be likely to harm me, as in a typical lifetime you run into much worse hazards than that. But when you multiply it up by the number of humans and consider all possible future humans as well, then existential risks become more important than a measure of probability would suggest. Note, in this I am going beyond the ESF to state my own personal POV. I might write a paper about it and see if I can get it published, as seems an interesting application of the ideas about existential risk, but have not attempted this yet.
Nick Bostrom suggests figures like 1 in 10^16 or even higher figures as potentially significant, if you take into account the possibility of future humans colonizing the galaxy. For that he gives figures as high as 10^34 human years (don't know how long lifetimes would be by then). So for instance a 1 in 10^10 chance of existential risk, you could argue on his 1 in 10^16 taking account of future generations for a billion years, is equivalent to a normal type risk likely to harm a million people, as that is the expected number to die (or never live) as a result. It is an ethical and philosophical question whether future possible lives should be taken account of in that way for existential risks, and what weight to put on them. Personally I feel they should at least to some extent, YMMV.
In view of that, I feel myself, why take the risk at all, tiny though it is? Eventually will want to return samples, but why not study on Mars first. For exobiologists anyway several of them have said that they think the same effort put into in situ studies with tools such as the astrobionibbler and in not too distant future, DNA sequencers etc, would yield better science return especially if it is hard to find samples with biosignatures on Mars.
But that's my personal POV and as not yet published at least not in any paper particularly talking about BC of Earth, then it can't go into any article here. If you want to find out more you can check out my science20 post, some of which I may try to make into an academic paper at some point, an exobiologist friend who publishes on Mars exobiology suggested it might be an idea to try publishing some of my contamination ideas. But I haven't yet done anything about that.
As for wikipedia articles, and the official studies, well the thing is just like my arguments just given, your argument you just gave is OR. Has anyone made this in a published paper? If not it has to be left out. You may have a point, on the other hand, I've given a couple of reasons why what you say may not be conclusive, and whatever, it is OR by the standards of wikipedia. I haven't seen it in any published paper yet, or would have included it.
But if it is like meta talking around the topic, then it is an interesting suggestion and hope you find my reply also interesting. And can sometimes be useful to talk in this way as it can suggest ways to search for new material e.g. maybe someone has made this argument in a paper, and could search to see if one can find it.
And either way, if the proposed receiving facility is totally safe, which is the conclusion of the ESF study that it is safe to acceptable levels, then still, it is a notable subject. And the article I write would put that as the conclusion as the one I already did does do. Other ideas about it such as the ICAMSR would be presented as a minority view.
My reason for including it is simply that there are numerous papers and studies on the topic, so passes the Wikiedia guidelines for notability and so should be here somewhere. Where it is put I really don't care too much just feel it should be here somewhere suitably titled so those who want to find out about it can find the information. The bias I see in Mars Project is another different but related topic. But whatever is done about that, if anything, I feel this material needs to be included somewhere. Do you see my point there? Just as is, only presenting what is in the studies, as presented in the studies, not adding any extra POV slant, and written with the help of a colleague with opposite POV to me to make sure there is no overall POV slant e.g. from selection of quotes or which things in the studies to mention.
Don't worry about discussing this using a changing ip address, I'm not bothered at all, and I understand that some contributers to wikipedia want to remain anonymous for many different reasons. Robert Walker (talk) 00:08, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
On your point about measuring volatiles, the thing is life on Mars may be extremely sparse. Any surface life is probably as sparse as desert life e.g. in the dry valleys in Antarctica. These may be below the surface of rocks for instance, or just below the surface of the soil, and may be slowly metabolizing - some of the Antarctic micro-organisms seem to have lifetimes measured in millennia. Then - if it is in the dust, similarly, may be just a few micro-organisms not enough to detect except with the most sensitive instruments yet only dormant and able to reproduce. And - many extremophiles and especially polyextremophiles can manage in a wide range of habitats. So a micro-organism adapted to Mars that is present in low concentrations there barely detectable due to the harsh conditions there, might yet be able to be a nuisance on Earth in different conditions. Of course not saying likely to be a nuisance there, just could be presumably with some low probability. Robert Walker (talk) 00:26, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
On the idea that it is a public relations exercise with no scientific basis, the ESF and NRC did go into the science. Not so much the ESF actually. The earlier NRC report is better. It goes into a lot of detail, e.g. about why the Martian meteorites argument of Zubrin is not sufficient reason to suppose that a MSR return is safe, and reasons for supposing that return of previously unencountered lifeforms is possible. Then the ESF adds to that with its discussion of the GTAs and a smaller size for the ultramicrobacteria. It is worth reading the NRC report first to put the ESF one into context. It is actually one of my main worries that if it goes ahead it might get treated as a purely public relations exercise by some of those involved in designing and running the mission who might not be totally up on the scientific background, some of them. If that happens it increases the chance of human error. After all a high proportion of missions to Mars fail, and some due to unanticipated human errors. As a totally novel mission this may also have some human errors, and those might increase the probability of release to a far higher level than the target 1 in million. That is my own POV, and the ICAMSR put a similar concern - to that extent my concerns are a bit like them but I don't share other aspects of their concerns. It was also a concern of Carl Sagan. Robert Walker (talk) 00:43, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
The OR point doesn't matter me at the moment. I just tried to understand the ESF paper and explain it in quantitative terms, especially page 36. The NASA definitions are no OR, it's cited.
I would eat the sample, especially because I'm sure, there can't be any Martian organism inside, as long as the sample is taken of the top 1 meter surface layer in a zone without permafrost, ice or hot springs, because the radiation is lethal to any thinkable organism in that zone within a few thousand years. And we have a security margin of a factor 1000.
They don't intend to find life inside the sample. They called that idea foolish. They try to find billions of years old biosigatures of petrified remnants of organisms or early predecessors of organisms meaning complex organic chemistry.
They will prefere not to heat the sample, because in that case potential organic material will react with perchlorates to carbon dioxide, and is lost for analysis.
In (aerosol) dust potential life isn't protected from UV and oxidized within short time.
In situ analysis on Mars doesn't work well enough, because the needed instruments depend on each analysis step. A sequencer doesn't help anything if there is nothing to sequence, or even if there is something to sequence, but with a different chemistry. In situ cannot do much more than some plausible preselection. Detailed questions are much too depended from stepwise found results.
I strongly disagree with the one billion years prospected existence of human beings. I don't see any reason to expect more than 10 million years, and most likely no more than 1 million years, if everything goes well. Just look in our past. The species evolves much faster.
The chance for an existential risk is most likely well below 10^-20. That's an average of well below 0.001 human beings even for a prospected population of 10^10 * 10^7 = 10^17 human years (10 billion people over 10 million years). And even severe disruptions like pest epidemies have been balanced within a few hundred years. The limiting factors have been ressources. 10^34 human years is pure speculation.
I disagree, that the material needs to be included in Wikipedia, because of missing scientific base. 99% of hypotheses turn out to be wrong. Wikipedia articles should be constrained on topics with at least some scientific evidence.
There are loads of papers with scientific evidence, which are not represented in Wikipedia. Just look at the LPSC abstracts.
Don't care; the scientits are perfectly up to date. (talk) 01:35, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
Okay, yes "exceedingly unlikely" might mean one in a million, I follow your meaning there. But they didn't define it in the paper, wouldn't they have defined it if they had a precise meaning as they did with the paper you linked to? Also as it is the informed opinion of experts, rather than a result of an experiment, I'd have liked more detail like how many experts were consulted, and was there a consensus or did some think it more likely than others? There is likely to be some variation there.
If we take it as one in a million, then the combined prob. is one in 10^12. Depends also on what the prob. is but if say one in a million for a life form to be problematic and further reduced by prob. that the sample has life in it at all, it's beginning to look not so bad, at least ordinary reasoning (not using the existential risk multipliers). That is, so long as the containment works. If just a PR exercise and not done carefully, then the human error prob. will be far higher than the 1 in a million design probability in my view, then combined prob. could be less than one in a billion which in my view is unacceptable for a potentially environmentally disrupting worst case.
You may notice the ESF study looks into issues such as crime, human error etc, and make a few remarks, but say that it is outside of their brief to look at these issues in detail. Those need to be examined by someone at some stage.
With the astronibbler, it is able to detect a single amino acid in a gram of sample so they have found ways around those issues. Urey also had some rather amazingly sensitive instruments, it still might fly I believe in some future Curiosity class mission, anyway shows what could be done.
What I feel about in situ observation is that they have got nowhere near the limit of what is possible by those means. So lets find out what we can do. I am myself much more optimistic about present day life, and actually the idea of sampling the dust for life is one of the ideas for a sample return mission to just return dust collected from the atmosphere. Well let's look at it in situ first.
Then if you find life, you know that there is life in the sample, and you know something about it. You might be able to find out its size for instance if you also have a good quality optical instrument or an electron microscope - and that's another instrument in development for future missions. And what you say about one stage following another in analysis -well curiosity does that. You can do that sort of thing in a reasonable sized rover, have several instruments and be able to move the samples from one to another during the analysis.
So if is life in the sample, everyone knows that and will treat it with much more caution, and you know its size perhaps, and something about it e.g. if DNA based, you have probably sequenced it too, since a miniaturized DNA sequencer is another instrument in development for future missions, quite advanced last time I checked their website, the team seem to think they could get it ready for the 2018 launch if they were asked to.
With the dust protection from UV, I haven't explained right. The micro-organisms aren't the dust. The idea is that micro-organisms can get imbedded inside a crevice in a grain of dust. The grains are irregular and large enough, and for a single micro-organism a grain of dust could have many locations where protected from UV and the iron oxide is known to shield against UV. As do other types of rocks but this is an example that does a good job of it. It is just a possibility an depends e.g. on whether the life forms are ever exposed to the surface of Mars. Example - don't know if any paper I've read says how it would happen, but suppose, e.g. the warm seasonal flows might well expose life to the surface and then the life in a temporarily liquid layer on the surface, if those form even briefly, could wet a dust grain that then gets blown away in the wind. With the advancing sands bioreactor idea also it would be a natural enough thing for a grain of dust to receive micro-organisms from the deliquescing salts within the dune and then be blown away.
Those exobiologists who wrote the paper pointed out that it might be hard to find old biology as well. Hard to find sediments that would preserve it and then they would be degraded by cosmic radiation, unless you can dig deep, and you don't know if the sediments that look promising actually have evidence of life in them at all. Need special conditions to preserve organics for billions of years, and you might think that it did satisfy those conditions when it didn't quite. After all, if it was easy to find samples with abundant life on them, e.g. organic rich shales, we would probably have spotted them by now, or Curiosity will find evidence soon. So the samples you can get easily probably are mainly of sparse life, perhaps localized, and many may by chance have no life in them, or not been able to preserve it. And you can only take a few grams probably of each sample in a MSR because the amounts returned are likely to be small in total mass. In the white paper they thought there was a reasonable chance a MSR would return samples no more conclusive for biology than the martian meteorites we have already.
I think the next stage should be, first more rovers like Curiosity - follow an idea by Zubrin, that since we know how to land Curiosity now, could land many copies of it, not bother to try new technology, but "churn them out" and bring the mission cost down and send lots of landers to Mars. Those would be hundreds of millions of dollar class missions not billion dollar missions. Then as funding becomes available, next step would be to send humans in orbit around Mars. They would operate rovers on the surface via telepresence and could do as much in a few ours as our current rovers do in years. Surprisingly in all this Zubrin also agrees at least his Athena double fly by, though I would differ of course in what happens next after that. He also thinks a MSR is of no value at this point. In his case because humans would bring back the samples, and for me, because the telerobots would do that after they are much better known :). So actually I pretty much go along with Zubrin as far as the humans on the surface then at that point I substitute telerobots for his humans in the near future for reasons of contamination prevention + they also can do more science return for the same cost, I believe, not having Mars surface colonization, but rather science return, as my prime objective at this stage, I think space colonies more promising than planetary surface colonies in near future that is all my POV of course, not for articles.
I agree that there are notable sources that don't belong in wikipedia, because they are repetitive and have easy access elsewhere. E.g. star catalogues easy example. Or map of entire surface of Mars.
This though I think is notable, because e.g. need for international public debate, and novel technology and the legal complexities, and the design challenge and there are many papers on it not just the NASA and ESF studies. If someone wants to do a notability debate is fine. But WP and BI just said to leave it out because it is POV slanted and alarmist, and I'm a POV pusher, and that was their reason for deleting the article I did in the AfD. And I don't think any of that is true. If the AfD was any of those, well it is something that can be addressed and an AfD can be resubmitted if you fix the things that caused the original decision, it's not a decision about the material in the article, and AfD is a decision about the article. The material can be reused elsewhere including other articles. Unless you have a topic ban which is a different thing.
So am saying that it needs debate, and propose that I create a new article or edit one of the existing articles with the help of my colleague with opposite POV - who also thinks it is notable, as do my scientific friends I discussed it with. When I originally created the article that was later deleted, then on the talk page for MSR return, then the consensus I got, from just a couple of posters there admittedly, was that it was worth writing, which is why I did it and everyone seemed happy with the way it was going until WP turned up. Robert Walker (talk) 07:15, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
On future of humanity for existential risk I can understand your skepticism. Myself, I think there may be two possible futures, one where we go extinct or regress to a non technological society due to some life shortening disaster, and the other, where we evolve into a robust long lived ET culture. Within the next century which is a tiny period compared even with human history never mind evolution, I expect we'll easily be able to build independent free flying space colonies using materials from the asteroid belt and the Oort cloud which could be moved wherever we like in the solar system using the Interplanetary Super highway. We probably will have fusion power too, and be able therefore to do mega-engineering if we want to with almost unlimited power, or to have miniature suns and live in the Oort cloud itself and would migrate to other stars just naturally without needing to even do much to encourage it. I don't think that is too over optimistic or science fictiony, just a reasonably realistic projection, we can almost see how to do most of that already with development of our technology. I think the main thing to prevent that is likely to be human nature, if we prove to be just too aggressive and unruly to survive in space. Obviously warring space colonies would soon destroy everyone in all the habitats, almost impossible to protect, so we need to be peaceful once we get into space (and I think some kind of space treaty stronger than we have now is a good way to do that) - if we get off on a good start then maybe it can become established practise to be peaceful in space. If not I can't see human colonies surviving long in space anywhere at all, either in free space or on planetary surfaces without human breathable atmospheres, if space colonies are as war like as humans on Earth. But if we can get past that hurdle, then humans could be a long lasting ET. Evolution could be stabilized with technology, or we might evolve to have more capabilities we don't have now, seems unlikely that all humans would regress to non intelligent animals in space colonies, you could imagine it happening in some perhaps - large self contained ones, everything works without maintenance and humans regress, but unlikely to happen to everyone. Robert Walker (talk) 07:37, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

I have just added this to the start of the draft article in my user space which I think addresses some of the things you said, makes the intended scope of the article clearer:

The view of NASA, the ESA and the Office of Planetary Protection is that these risks can be contained and that a sample return can be carried out safely provided the correct precautions are taken. The reports stress the need for these precautions. The ESF report, for instance, recommends that release of a Martian particle under 0.05 microns is unacceptable under any circumstances.

There are some minority view dissenters (in the ICAMSR) who think that a sample return should not be carried out yet, and that more in situ observations are needed, or recommended first. At the other end of the spectrum, Zubrin believes that the BC risk has no scientific validity at all. Then, some exobiologists believe that more in situ observation is needed first for practical reasons and reasons of cost benefit.

For: User:Robertinventor/Mars Sample Receiving Facility and sample containment

Which I think is a pretty fair assessment of the prevailing views. I am just editing that article myself at present and mainly for use in my science20 column as it seems it is not welcome here at present. My opposite POV collaborator hasn't been involved in it yet (he is a busy professional person and only want to involve him if it seems likely his help will be accepted and useful). But - maybe opinion will change and a place will be found for it here, or some of it... Robert Walker (talk) 07:56, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

The BC issue is not a PR exercise. It is taken serious, because of public concerns. NASA and ESA are vitally interested in being trustworthy. And of course they have to pay attention, not to re-contaminate the samples on Earth, because otherwise false positive data could result, as with round-trip contamination. And don't forget the billions of dollars to be spent for a returned sample. They will take very much care that no unauthorized persons can get access. I had the chance to see an Apollo moon sample. It was protected much better than gold.
There are lots of options and scenarios. You'll find much detail in the 2020 SDT papers, available via (Download buttons below dynamic graphics). Reasons, why no in situ analysis for extant life is considered as reasonable, is provided. I'm sure you'll get a better understanding by reading those papers, at least for the scientist POV, especially the way how (ancient!) biosignatures are looked for. I'm not aware, that the PPO POV is available yet. There was also a press conference, see "Mars Rover 2020 News Telecon".
The 2020 mission is based on existing technology. A sequencer ready for space travel isn't available presently.
The next steps, how to further investigate the collected samples is open at the moment. They are just preparing for a potential MSR.
You were describing nice visions. But it's fiction. Well, sufficiently large asteroids could in principle be used for interstellar space travel, because they protect from cosmic rays and small impact bodies. And new types of thrusters are under development making accessible the most proximate stars within a few centuries, in theory. And there are enough enthusiastic candidates who would dare the travel. But that's a long way to go, and we don't know, whether it will ever be funded. (talk) 12:21, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
Glad you agree it is not a public relations exercise.
But in that case is surely notable enough for an article on it.
There are two directions to it, to prevent the sample from contamination and to prevent the EArth from contamination. The whole thing would be much simpler in design if you just needed to protect the sample from Earth, it is the two way protection that makes it really tough at least according to the studies I read.
This is the gene sequencer, they hope to be able to launch it on the next Curiosity class mission: SETG. Thanks for the links and new info, will take a look at it, not had a time to read it yet.
With the asteroids, the point was - asteroid mining to make habitats, which could be of any size. Just as you can do ISRU on Mars, you can also do it in space using Martian Moons or more generally material from asteroids. In both cases you need space suits (unless telerobotics advance to the stage where you don't need to go outside as I expect it will eventually). It was all within the solar system. Going to nearby stars I see as a few centuries in the future but if space colonization does get underway don't see how it could not happen eventually (for good or for bad depending on your POV) unless we ourselves destroy ourselves in the process through aggression.
Just thought I'd answer those two points. It's possible we have both said most of what we are going to say, I think I've probably said most of what I have to say anyway, but will check out your links and interested in your reply if you have more to say. 13:15, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
SETG has been considered for the 2020 mission as you may find in the referenced papers.
"exceedingly unlikely" means, that they never expect it to occur ( But "below 1 in a million" seems to be a good quantification regarding other sources, with an example of a 1 in 33 million example for a meteorite hitting a given house in a year.
Cheers (talk) 14:24, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
Listened to the report. First, at 32.26, where he says "to do an extant life expedition leads you to go to regions of the planet that are particularly challenging to access" - as I understand it, the reason Curiosity was not sent to regions of Mars where present day life might be possible is because it is only sterilized to Category IVa and it is a major challenge to sterilize a rover to the Category IVb or IVc needed to go to regions of Mars where present day life might be possible. That would add enormously to the cost of the mission and they aren't actually sure how to set about it with modern components, because the Viking dry heat methods would destroy many of the modern components.
48.00 suggestion to do extant life detection experiment. Note - the reason given for searching for past life isn't because they think there is no extant life there now. But because they think if there is any extant life now, then is so sparse would be hard for anything except very sensitive equipment to detect it. Rough quote:

"We work on evidence based science, and to date the evidence that we have from observation of Mars and Mars and martian samples is that we don't have clear indications that life in such an abundance on the planet that we could go there with a simple experiemnt like viking and detct that there. So then we think, what are the steps we coudl do to answer the question " are we alone" and to look for simple organisms or not so simple organisms that could be living in that toxic harsh environment we just think is a foolish investment of the technology at this time".

So just that if there is life, is so hard to detect it doesn't seem worth targeting it specifically - and that's for the locations where they can send a mission sterilized only to Category IVa. The mission wouldn't be sterilized to the levels suitable for searching for life in the more sensitive layers such as the seasonal warm flows, or for looking for subsurface thin films of liquid brine. AFAIK there are no plans at the moment for any missions sterilized to Category IVb or IVc.
But myself, I wonder if there is a chance that some of the instruments might be sensitive to detect present day life, as they are so very sensitive, though prob. not much if any to detect where Curiosity is, yet when we know so little really....
This is the astrobionibbler work in progress, but could detect a single amino acid in a gram of sample. Urey has more advanced capabilities. The early Urey instrument which was on ExoMars but got withdrawn when NASA pulled out of the project so they had to go on a Russian rocket instead, was also a very sensitive life biosignature detector.
Robert Walker (talk) 19:15, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
I think, you are going to get a reasonable understanding. Some POV in that framework is ok and welcome!
Regions particularly difficult to access can also mean 1 kilometer underground in an old volcano with remnants of geothermal activity; that's my understanding, and those are reasonable locations to consider extant life on Mars. Forward contamination issues are much easier to overcome.
The recommendation not to include a sensitive detector, as I've been understanding, was that they think, it will be very unlikely to find evident traces of organisms (ancient or present) by in situ analysis, and they are very restricted in budget and payload. They have to maximize scientific return. If they find a single amino acid, most scientists will say, that could have been contamination from Earth. If they don't find amino acids, others will say, they have been looking for the wrong ones or at the wrong place. So either result won't be satisfying. And a clear signal is considered as too unlikely to take the risk.
Even if there could be found a clear signal, some will say: Well, that's not unexpected, because interstellar dust also contains amino acids; that's no proof for extant live; the same with single GATC bases and their derivatives.
No matter, which result can be obtained, new questions will arise with the need for further analysis. E.g. more statistics about the frequency of chemical compounds and their association with texture, until a level of confidence is reached, where scientists will agree about evidence of biosignatures, how to assess them if existent, or to evidently rule out this possibility. (talk) 14:35, 19 July 2013 (UTC)

Suggestion for a way forward - new articles[edit]

I had an idea this morning which may give a way forward. The idea is - I agree that there is a lot of material on the page for the AfD, and it is hard to read. This material is needed though and is undoubtedly notable.

So the idea is, to separate it into several articles. First, an article that only describes the results of the official NASA and ESA sponsored studies, removes almost all mention of the ICAMSR and of Zubrin's views, removes the long sections on legal issues, and also the section on science value discussions.

Mars Sample Receiving Facility and sample containment

This page then has none of the previously mentioned POV issues as it doesn't cover the views of the ICAMSR. The only remaining issues would concern whether it presents the official reports accurately. This I suggest needs to be done through a detailed discussion of the article and the citations.

The article must however present the risks of environmental disruption of the Earth and the need for international public debate as topics, since these are clearly presented in the original sources from the NRC, ESF and PPO.

Without those topics the whole article becomes biased towards surface of Mars colonization advocacy and it removes a cited notable topic from wikipedia with no encyclopaedic reason for doing so.

Separate pages then discuss the legal / public debate, the science value debate, and in another page, the extreme views of Zubrin and of the ICAMSR (at the opposite extreme) on back contamination risks.

For these additional pages, see:

Mars Sample Receiving Facility and sample containment#See_also

These are of course drafts that need more work.

These articles would greatly simplify the treatment of these issues in the back-contamination page, which could be rather short or even merged as a section in the interplanetary contamination page (which of those is done I suggest left as a decision for later).

What do you all think? Robert Walker (talk) 08:49, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

Garbage in. Garbage out. -BatteryIncluded (talk) 14:19, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree that we do not need more articles, but rather to expand the articles that we have. However, one-line insults do not help. Be Civil. Rudeness is likely to boomerang. If you can't say anything neutral about RW, don't say anything about him and his comments. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:35, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
There are already at least four articles on "contamination" that I'm aware of. We do not need more articles. Warren Platts (talk) 21:16, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
More articles? Why? Expand the stub-class articles. I don't see anyone, whether WP or RW or BI, suggesting more articles. Expand the existing ones. Maybe we agree on that. Robert McClenon (talk) 21:21, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
The idea is by having a separate article on the Mars Receiving Facility then the article on back contamination risks can be much shorter as it doesn't need to go into details. The material on the Mars Receiving Facility particularly is a subject of many notable publications.
It should also help with POV arguments with opposing editors, which I expect be a major handicap to writing the article. By putting this material into its own article then arguments about accuracy of representation of the official POV can be separated from arguments about undue weight in my treatment of the extreme views of the ICAMSR and Zubrin. If anyone still wants to argue that this article represents the views of the ICAMSR they would have a hard time doing so when the ICAMSR views are nowhere presented.
Does that make sense? Please, can there be some movement here, some possibility of including the official studies? No matter if it is in a specialist article that hardly anyone reads, it has to be in wikipedia somewhere. Robert Walker (talk) 06:37, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
Insults don't count as reasoned argument here IMHO, and it's never been wikipedia policy to leave out notable material on the grounds that it leads to too many articles on that particular topic in wikipedia. Robert Walker (talk) 06:44, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
In short, I suggest that by WP:NOTABLE it deserves an article of its own. Is there any Wikipedia policy that says it should be left out? Robert Walker (talk) 09:40, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
There is already a section that is duly cited and discusses the MSRRF here. There is also the ICAMSR article, the Planetary protection article, and the back contamination article and probably at least a couple of others as well. Warren Platts (talk) 16:09, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
It's well-sourced material, but I don't see the need for another article. Can it be merged into existing articles? Robert McClenon (talk) 18:35, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
Keeping it as a separate article will help with this confusion that you seem to get if you discuss both the official POV and the ICAMSR in the same page. It seems from my experience of the AfD discussion that there is a strong tendency for readers to think the official POV described in that page is the same as the ICAMSR POV.
By putting it in a separate article there is no confusion about which is the official POV and which is the ICAMSR POV. The official POV is not widely known or understood and has to be explained clearly. I think devoting an entire page to just this POV makes it an easier read as when you include many POVs in the same page, and also have to explain complex material as well, then it is a lot to demand of the reader, to take that all in and understand it all. Does that make sense? Robert Walker (talk) 19:57, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
Warren I have many issues with your short summary in the MSR page. I consider it to have at least 4 major errors.
1. Says it is a biohazard 4 laboratory - the studies say clearly that a biohazard 4 laboratory is inadequate and that a new type of facility needs to be designed and built.
2. Says that " the risk of harmful back contamination is very likely to be zero" - in fact the cited sources say it is non zero. There is no way those mean the same thing - if you consider that they do - why not use the wording of the original report rather than your innovative wording?
3 It implies that only the ICAMSR argues that in the worst case, a MSR could lead to environment disruption. The official studies also say this.
4. It mentions the need for the domestic NEPA and CIS requirements while omitting the international requirements, and makes no mention of the need for international debate with other countries that could potentially be impacted in worst case. All of that is in the official studies.
You removed the WP:OPINION and CN tags that I added to it to alert the reader to these issues.Robert Walker (talk) 20:21, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
We've been through this before: (1) the citation right there on slide #20 states they will be constructing a Biosafety Level 4 lab--you don't like it because it doesn't exaggerate the difficulty; (2)conflating 'x is very likely to be zero' and 'x is zero' is a confusion on your part--again, you don't like it because it doesn't exaggerate the risk; (3) the studies say the recommended precautions will be adequate to prevent environmental disruption; (4) the NEPA process provides for public review; non-US citizens will of course be allowed to participate--you don't like it because it doesn't imply that NASA is trying to sneak something in under the radar. Warren Platts (talk) 21:41, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
1. Yes is biosafety 4, as in better than biosafety 4. It has to be able to contain particles no larger than 0.05 µm and recommended, no larger than 0.01 µm. It has to function as a clean room as well. This is all a big challenge. Any reader reading your paraphrase will assume that a normal biosafety 4 laboratory is sufficient and that is untrue.
2. With your argument that "likely to be zero" is the same as "non zero" - if they do indeed mean the same, as you claim, why do you feel it is so important to use your words rather than the original words of the PPO?
3. Yes they say the precautions will be adequate, but that is no reason for leaving out of your summary any mention of the main thing the precautions are there to prevent.

RECOMMENDATION 10: Considering the global nature of the issue, consequences resulting from an unintended release could be borne by a larger set of countries than those involved in the programme. It is recommended that mechanisms dedicated to ethical and social issues of the risks and benefits raised by an MSR are set up at the international level and are open to representatives of all countries

That's a quote from the ESF report.
And because you disagree with me on this point and maintain that your version is accurate and that my accounts are inaccurate, you removed the WP:OPINION and CN tags immediately as soon as I added them. I never removed any of the tags from the AfD, even the ones that were originally tagged to your version of the article. Robert Walker (talk) 23:32, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
Interesting. So your only source for international "requirements" is an ESF "recommendation". Another clear case of exaggeration because the truth is not worth telling... Warren Platts (talk) 03:23, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
Okay, we are getting off topic here. I've added a new section to the talk page about this here. I have simply rewritten the version you ahve in the main article to correct these 4 errors. I have added no new material except what is needed to correct the errors, plus added two subsection headers: Bias and errors in the back contamination section Robert Walker (talk) 11:54, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
There are not four errors: it's merely the case that the language is not alarmist enough to suit you. Also your contention that Biosafety Level 4 labs do not function as clean rooms is factually inaccurate. I could go on, but there are more important things to do... Warren Platts (talk) 17:42, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
See for example:

A Sample Return Facility will require combining technologies used for constructing maximum containment laboratories (e.g. Biosafety Level 4 labs), which will be needed to ensure protection of Earth from the Mars samples, with cleanroom technologies, which will be needed to protect the Mars samples from Earth contamination.

• Such an integrated facility is not currently available.

Planetary Protection Requires Negative Air Flow to Protect Against Environmental Contamination Planetary Science and Planetary Protection Require Positive Air Flow to Protect Samples from Terrestrial Contamination

see Mars Sample Return Receiving Facility - A Draft Test Protocol for Detecting Possible Biohazards in Martian Samples Returned to Earth. Robert Walker (talk) 19:05, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
Another example of exaggeration. You'll take an erroneous statement from a single slide on a power point, and amplify it into the engineering challenge of the century. Which of course it /must/ be since MSR is VERY SCARY!! Biosafety Level 4 labs routinely employ both positive and negative air flows. Do some due diligence for once... Warren Platts (talk) 19:18, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
The slides summarize the results from this longer 117 page study of requirements for a Mars sample return receiving facility in 2002. If you want to find out more and all the technical details of the challenges involved in combining the two types of facility, and suggested solutions to them, see: A Draft Test Protocol for Detecting Possible Biohazards in Martian Samples Returned to Earth. 2005 update.
Here is a later quote with the reference to the earlier report issues of combining the two methods in bold itallics, it's from the 2010 Mars Sample Return Orbiter decadal survey:

The NASA Planetary Protection Officer commissioned the development of a draft test protocol that would represent one “necessary and sufficient” approach to evaluate the safety of the samples while safeguarding the purity of the samples from terrestrial contamination. A Draft Test Protocol for Detecting Possible Biohazards in Martian Samples Returned to Earth was published in October 2002 [7]. In 2003, three architectural design teams independently examined the scope, approach, cost, and technology required for the SRF, using the Draft Test Protocol for requirements. The approaches varied from allrobotic handling of samples to more traditional glove box implementations. The studies indicated that the principles and techniques required are generally mature. Biosafety laboratories, the NASA Lunar Sample Facility, pharmaceutical laboratories, and electronic fabrication cleanrooms perform most of the required individual functions. However, there are some areas needing early development, such as ensuring sample preservation and bio-safety together, representing new challenges that were addressed by techniques like dual-walled containers (and gloves) with positive pressure clean inert gas in between the walls. This, as well as some further development in ultra-clean sample manipulation, safe and pure transport of samples, and sample sterilization techniques, are planned in the technology program

The additional challenges are significant and no facility currently exists that could be certified to receive a sample from Mars.
It is easy to find this material. You could find this with a few minutes of google searching on the topic. Why haven't you come across it yet yourself? Do you still claim that I intentionally exaggerated this, using erroneous information on a singe slide? Robert Walker (talk) 21:41, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
It is exaggeration. You'll take the above quote, and then derive something like "The facility must also double as a clean room ... this greatly adds ... to the risk of failure" Talk about WP:OR!! But of course you have to do that because the truth isn't worth reporting.... Warren Platts (talk) 18:38, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
No apology then. I'm sure I never said it greatly adds to the risk of failure, as no-one said that. Greatly adds to the complexity of the design, yes, that's what they say in the sources. Robert Walker (talk) 13:08, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
The extra complexity adds to the possibility of mistakes, of course, for a new facility never built before. This is also a criticism that the ESF reprot itself presents as an issue with the design and addresses in its risk mitigation. The aim is that after all the risk mitigation involved for a complex new design that the probability is less than a million of an escape. Robert Walker (talk) 13:18, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

Martian Gullies -> Gully (Mars)[edit]

Hi guys. I've just discovered our article Martian Gullies - and the first thing that jumps out at me is that this name violates WP naming conventions. At the very least, it needs to become Martian gullies, but my personal preference would be Gully (Mars). I think this per the conventions "use lower case", "use singular forms", and "use nouns". I think I have a pretty strong case here, but if anyone wants to make the case for some other naming, please head to the article talk page and argue with me. DanHobley (talk) 05:45, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Since they may be dry material flow (CO2 involvement), I understand that the new neutral scientific nomenclature is "seasonal flow". To make matters interesting in Wikipedia, there is now duplication and I believe we have to merge Martian Gullies with Seasonal flows on warm Martian slopes. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 13:12, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
This isn't right - seasonal flows are linear patterns of darkening and lightening seen in repeated (seasonal) imaging. Gullies are defined by their dendritic shape, and are geomorphic features defined by their topography, not the process. If anything, "seasonal flows" are more synonymous with "slope streaks" than gullies. Some duplication may be necessary, but these are not the same thing at all. Gully (Mars) stands as distinctly WP:NOTABLE in its own right. NB- both pages, esp. the gullies page, need thorough cleanup to make this clear, as it clearly isn't at the moment. (Tenor of this comment duplicated over at seasonal flows talk page) DanHobley (talk) 17:44, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes the Martian seasonal flows are not gullies. What they are is unclear, not well understood yet. Robert Walker (talk) 18:34, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Continuing abuses, here and in related pages[edit]

Would WP, RW, and BI please either edit articles without comments on talk pages, or edit articles with constructive comments on talk pages (knowing that to be unlikely), while dispute resolution is continuing? What articles do there continue to be issues about? Can editors who see issues about articles either go to content Requests for Comments, or summarize the issues so that editors who are familiar with the process can post the RFC's? Recent issues are:

  • Clean-up templates were removed without discussion, with only an edit summary. The removal of clean-up templates, even if considered by the remover to be wrong, should be done by consensus, not unilaterally. Removal of clean-up templates is disruptive editing and interferes with clean-up. In extreme cases, it may lead to being blocked.
  • An editor accused another editor of paranoid personality disorder. That is a personal attack.
  • An editor made non-sensical comments about the policy against sock-puppetry, saying that there are various legitimate reasons to use sock-puppets. That was either an ignorant comment by an experienced editor, or was an attempt to justify his own accusation of sock-puppetry.

Are there any other issues for which an RFC is required? Robert McClenon (talk) 00:15, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

If you have something to say to RW and WP, please address to them. I have not fed the troll in weeks. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 00:32, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
Neither of them is a troll, and I have posted to both of them. They are tendentious editors. Robert McClenon (talk) 01:12, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
As just posted to my talk page, the wikipedia policy pages list legitimate reasons for using sock puppets. That is what I was referring to. In at least one of those legitimate reasons it is also acceptable not to disclose that you are a sock puppet.
Legitimate uses
* Privacy: A person editing an article which is highly controversial within his/her family, social or professional circle, and whose Wikipedia identity is known within that circle, or traceable to their real-world identity, may wish to use an alternative account to avoid real-world consequences from their editing or other Wikipedia actions in that area.
WP did hardly any editing of wikipedia, but BI is an editor with a massive history of editing. So BI could be a legitimate sock puppet of WP, he might well do some editing that WP doesn't want to be associated with professionally or in his personal life, so that was what I thought. If that were the case, perhaps I shouldn't "out" WP, come to think of it but hadn't thought through that aspect of it. I have been an editor of wikipedia for quite a while, and of course have heard of sock puppets but never come across anyone I thought might be a sock puppet before. I found out this information about legitimate sock puppets in course of research to try to understand some bizarre coincidences that happened and other strange things over the last few weeks. On wikipedia it is not paranoid to wonder if accounts here are meat or sock puppets as wikipedia has an ongoing issue with such accounts with investigations all the time. Robert Walker (talk) 05:26, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
On Robert McLenon's main point - I feel that the material I want to add is notable and highly cited. If there is room in wikipedia for an article on the hexany, something that only a hundred or so academics and microtonal composers probably know about, surely there is a room for a separate article on the Mars sample receiving facility and sample containment and all the studies done about them and the back contamination issues. It is easily substantial enough for one. The objection that the article is larger than the MSR mission page itself doesn't matter because unlike a printed encyclopedia, prominence in wikipedia is not measured by the number of words written on a topic and many low importance articles are long. I feel it needs a place here somewhere and can't understand why it is "banned" as it seems to me. Wikipedia has a place for anything notable, I was under the impression. The discussion should surely be just about where to put it, not about whether to include it at all when it is the subject of many papers and studies all highly notable sources.
My other main issue is the POV slanting. There is one minority view, by Zubrin, that contamination issues are of no concern at all. For those who hold this view it is entirely understandable that they feel there should be almost no treatment of the subject in pages on exploration of Mars. But according to the official views of NASA and ESA which are surely the "mainstream" view if anything is, the issue is a significant one, and should be mentioned in some detail. Particularly to have almost no mention on pages on human colonization and a POV slanted section in the Mars sample return mission gives a Mars surface colonization advocacy slant to the whole of Mars project now. Robert Walker (talk) 05:26, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
Just to say for anyone reading this, I had a misunderstanding, as I thought "sock puppet" meant the same as "alternative account". The policy page makes it clear. but my eye must have slid over the vital word in the first sentence. I posted about it here: Wikipedia talk:Sock puppetry#Emphasis of improper. Robert McClenon cleared up this misunderstanding for me, and also helped me understand the complexity of issues to do with sock puppets, meat puppets, and off-wiki communication between friends and colleagues with shared objectives. The last of those is, of course, permitted. Robert Walker (talk) 11:36, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

Bias in Project Mars on human missions[edit]

As a result of WarrenPlatts recent edits, the whole project is now highly biased towards Mars surface colonization advocacy.

In particular he removed the Concerns section from Colonization of Mars. He left nothing in its place. As a result it has an Advocacy section but no Concerns section.

He also removed the Concerns section from Manned mission to Mars. It now has a much shorter Challenges section instead.

The old Concerns section for Manned mission to Mars was mostly written by me and am first to admit it had many flaws. I agreed on the talk page it was overlong and with hindsight not well written for an encyclopiedia.

The talk page had an open discussion of how best to deal with those issues, and I was in the middle of implementing them by including relevant material elsewhere on Project Mars when this was derailed when WP removed all my material on this topic throughout Project Mars. He also archived the talk page so removing the open discussion on how to deal with the issues.

For all its flaws, it was highly cited, notable material and its removal lead to protests on its talk page for that reason. It shouldn't have been removed without discussion. My material there was originally added as a result of a request to expand the existing Concerns section which was thought to be too short and the article too biased.

I think in some way these two articles should reflect the variety of POVs, that not everyone agrees that immediate Mars surface colonization by humans as soon as possible is the way ahead. I would suggest that Concerns sections should be reinstated in both articles in some form.

There is a RfC on contamination issues on Manned Mission to Mars talk page, but this is another matter. It is more to do with the general tone, that the articles should somehow reflect that not everyone is a Mars surface colonization advocate and some see them as Concerns rather than just Challenges to be overcome. I.e. to entertain the possibility that if the concerns turn out to be justified, maybe we shouldn't colonize Mars right away but take time to find out more about the planet first. Robert Walker (talk) 14:28, 14 July 2013 (UTC)

Request for Arbitration[edit]

Please be advised that a Request for Arbitration has been filed concerning user conduct issues that make the resolution of content issues impossible.

Robert McClenon (talk) 16:33, 14 July 2013 (UTC)

Request for Arbitration declined - restatement of policies[edit]

The ArbCom has declined the Request for Arbitration.

I will restate the usual policies and guidelines for the resolution of content disputes, and perhaps the conduct issues that made the resolution of content issues impossible can be avoided.

Robert McClenon (talk) 00:44, 22 July 2013 (UTC)

Viking spacecraft biological experiments#Labeled Release[edit]

Can someone add more views to that section? It's currently mostly based on Levin's publications. A search in Google Books finds plenty of material... Someone not using his real name (talk) 21:18, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

Terrain softening[edit]

We have a newly born article! See Terrain softening (Mars). I've stuck it up for a Did You Know nomination on the main page. I'd be much obliged if someone could also take five minutes to run their eye over it to check it makes sense, give it a rating, approve my importance assessment, etc. DanHobley (talk) 18:07, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

It's ALIVE![edit]

In other project-related news, I've just taken the liberty of removing the semi-active tag from the project page. I would say we definitely have pretty robust activity right now! DanHobley (talk) 18:14, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

Images from Mars[edit]

Hi folks, I just want to let you know that I am quite easily able make images as this one around the Mars. So if you need general overview picture of some feature, please, let me know. Also, if you think that the general view of image would be great modify somehow, also, let me know. I'd like to produce all of them in same look, so now is the best time for your feedback :) Regards --Chmee2 (talk) 10:05, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

More 27 images from Tharsis region generated&uploaded&added&categorized. Best regards --Chmee2 (talk) 13:27, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
Next 24 images done in last two days. Regards --Chmee2 (talk) 19:56, 29 July 2014 (UTC)